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MUM AND DAUGHTER IN FRAUD CASE; Duo fleeced credit union.

Byline: GARETH LIGHTFOOT

A MOTHER and daughter took money from hard-up friends as they fleeced a credit union out of more than pounds 25,000, a court heard.

Linda and Kelly Waterfield breached the trust placed in them as volunteers in an organisation helping people to save and apply for loans.

They were the sole active directors of the former West and Central Middlesbrough Credit Union, prosecutor Oliver Thorne told Teesside Crown Court yesterday.

Account checks revealed that pounds 25,411 was missing. Signatures were forged in loan agreements and withdrawals. As many as 61 accounts were affected by the fraud.

Kelly, 33, admitted she applied for loans in other people's names to take money for herself over two years.

"She accepted that the people she'd taken money from effectively were people she regarded as friends and she knew all of the people concerned," said Mr Thorne.

Her mum Linda, 60, helped cover up her daughter's activities by moving money. Inquiries revealed she had been collecting money but not paying into the credit union.

She later defrauded the Ayresome Community Enterprise, of which she was a voluntary joint treasurer, with pounds 2,360 worth of cheques.

Both admitted fraud - one count in the case of Kelly, six for Linda - between 2008 and 2010. Neither had any previous convictions. Robert Mochrie, defending Kelly, said at the time she was "in arrears all over the place" struggling to feed her family, and stupidly hoped to juggle money to pay it all back.

He added jail would impact on her nine-year-old child and she wanted to put the "terrible mess" behind her.

Peter Kilgour, for Linda, said the devoted shame-filled mum "can't hold her head up in public any more".

He said the devoted mum had a hard life and a sense of family duty and pressure "turned her into a criminal".

She was in poor health with mobility problems, diabetes and osteoarthritis.

If jailed, she would lose her home where she looked after her son who had medical and learning difficulties.

Judge Peter Armstrong told the two: "You were taking money from people who no doubt were in a similar position to yours. Neither of you could complain if I locked you up. But I'm persuaded that it's possible to avoid immediate custodial sentences. "Had this money simply been obtained for luxury items, then you would be going straight to prison today." He gave them prison terms - four months for Kelly, six for Linda - each suspended for two years. Kelly, of Essex Street, Middlesbrough, must do 200 hours' unpaid work. Linda, of Millfield Close, Eaglescliffe, will be under supervision for a year.

No one lost money MEMBERS of the credit union swindled by Kelly and Linda Waterfield have not lost money, an official told the Gazette today.

Elaine Gilmour, the support officer for the Pioneer Credit Union who discovered the fraud, said: "They are protected by insurance and the Financial Services Authority so there's never a risk to the members' money. Nobody actually lost any money.

"The credit union made sure everybody's account was right. Money that was taken was put back from credit union funds.

"The Financial Services compensation scheme and the insurance company made good the losses.

"The members have since had money in, had money out and have borrowed money. They know that the money is safe."

She added: "I think the result was to be expected. "I think everybody's a bit disappointed, they think it should have been harsher, but I suppose all things considered it was fair enough."

'CASH SAFE': Elaine Gilmour - Credit Union support officer IN COURT: Linda Waterfield and her daughter Kelly, above, after their appearance at Teesside Crown Court yesterday when they both admitted fraud
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Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Jan 14, 2012
Words:621
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